The suffering formula

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”


Dear Reader,

Suffering=pain x resistance

The formula above has given me more peace.

A bold statement.

Think it through.

Something bad happens.

Big or small: a train is delayed, a work deal falls through, you become very ill.

These things are frustrating, difficult, and even life-altering.

No doubt.

You are in pain.

What makes them worse?

The narrative we lay on top.

“This shouldn’t be happening, why me, I just want this to stop, it’s not fair, everything is now going to collapse, it’s over.”

You have taken your pain and multiplied it with your resistance.

You have created suffering.

As a formula:

The train is late x “oh for god’s sake”, “pace the station”, “jab at your phone angrily”, “the rest of the day is ruined” = a whole load of suffering. 

You’ve taken the original issue and multiplied its impact on you.

And please do apply this formula to the truly terrible things in life too (not just an annoying “leaves on the track” experience).

So how do I get more peace from the formula?

Replace resistance with acceptance.

You note how you feel: upset, angry, scared.

You accept it. This is how it is. This is reality.

You pause, plan and move on.

That acceptance ironically allows calm and more productive action.

The train is late x “oh this is annoying”, “it is what it is”, “let me change my day around and use the time to do something else” = no real suffering at all.

Apply it to something bigger.

My company is on the verge of collapse x “this is the worst thing ever”, “it’s so unfair”, “everyone will blame me”, “it shouldn’t be happening”, “why me?” = a whole load of suffering and probably little action. 


My company is on the verge of collapse x “this is bad”, “I feel scared”, “this is how it is right now- I accept it’s happening”, “I need to look after myself” “ok what can I do to turn things round”= less suffering and calm action.

Acceptance does not mean being passive. It means being clear.

Nelson Mandela famously took this attitude with apartheid.

He accepted the reality of it, in order to change it.

So try it next time something happens.

Notice the pain: accept it rather than resist it.

Suffer less.

Suffering =pain x resistance.

Reduce your resistance and see your suffering diminish.

Love Sanja x

“The avoidance of our inner demons-our fear of change and death, our rage and jealousy- only imbues these adversaries with greater power. The more we run away, the less chance we have of escaping. We must face suffering, move into it; only then can we become free from it.”

Mingyur Rimpoche

Some reading recommendations to create more acceptance and calm

Deliberate Calm
When Things Fall Apart